Hawkeye recruiting mailbag: What's the plan for Brady Ellingson and Ahmad Wagner's scholarships?

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

So, Tuesday was kind of eventful for Iowa men’s basketball.

First, Brady Ellingson announced he was transferring. That wasn’t a surprise. We’d been hearing Iowa expected that for a while.

Iowa's Brady Ellingson and Tyler Cook (5) knock the ball away from Northern Illinois' Dante Thorpe during their game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017.

Then, Ahmad Wagner announced he was leaving the program to pursue football.

More power to him.

More: What's next for Iowa basketball? Here are player-by-player goals for the offseason

Wagner was an undersized Big Ten post at 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds. With that same size, he’s an immediate factor on a football team's tight end depth chart, even though he hasn't played competitive football since high school. He starred at wide receiver for Wayne High in Yellow Springs, Ohio, so you know he can catch some passes.

This is great for Ellingson, too. He only got 7.5 minutes per game through Big Ten play and the conference tournament. Those minutes would have dwindled more with Joe Wieskamp and C.J. Fredrick coming in next year.

Programs in his home state of Wisconsin could be good fits. He grew up 20 minutes from Wisconsin-Milwaukee, although it doesn’t currently have an open 2018 spot. Wisconsin-Green Bay still has two open 2018 scholarships.

We’ll see.

Now, to your questions.

Is anyone going to transfer from IC? ... And if so will Fran finally go after a Grad transfer PG – @alexbair

You got your answer Tuesday. Two departures. And I would not be floored if a third came before all is said and done.

For now, let’s assume it stays at two open 2018 slots. That gives Fran McCaffery a lot of flexibility.

One of those scholarships probably goes to Connor McCaffery, who appeared in four games this season as a backup point guard but was not on scholarship. Fran McCaffery will always have the option to move his son on and off scholarship, but I think he'll be on next season. 

Iowa's Connor McCaffery, left, celebrates a 3-pointer from Luka Garza during Iowa's Dec. 29, 2017, win against Northern Illinois. McCaffery appeared in four games this past season as a backup point guard.

There are several options for the second scholarship.

McCaffery could pocket it for the 2019 class. 

He could find a late-blooming 2018 prospect. Finding someone for the current class this late isn’t super common, but it does happen. Maishe Dailey didn’t commit to Iowa until May 2016.

He could pick up a sit-out transfer. There are 83 such players currently available, according to Verbal Commits.

He could go the junior college route. National powerhouse Indian Hills in Ottumwa has several Division I prospects this year.

Or he could give the scholarship to a graduate transfer. There are 44 such transfer players currently available, according to Verbal Commits.

I think the first and final options are most likely. McCaffery doesn’t usually go for grad transfers, but I personally like that option for this team next year.

In a perfect world, the Hawkeyes would get a high-end grad transfer who could immediately start, let Jordan Bohannon play off the ball more and ease pressure of Connor McCaffery in what essentially amounts to a second crack at his freshman year. 

They really don't need that, though. If they could even get a senior point guard to come in and play ferocious defense and make plays for teammates for 15 minutes a game, that'd work wonders.

We're likely talking about a low-major to mid-major guy. Here are a few currently available that stand out ... 

Aaron Carlixte (5-11, 175) — transferring from Maine, averaged 16.9 points per game this season; Oklahoma is currently pursuing him.

Fordham's Joseph Chartouny (12) defends Rhode Island's Jeff Dowtin (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Joseph Chartouny (6-3, 205) — transferring from Fordham, scored in double figures all three years, named to the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive team this year; he was just granted his release, but he will get plenty of interest.

Mike Cunningham, USC Upstate guard, looks to the referee as he points to a fan making noise in the stands during the Atlantic Sun men's basketball tournament quarterfinal against USC Upstate at Alico Arena on Monday, February 26, 2018.

Mike Cunningham (6-1, 190) — transferring from University of South Carolina Upstate, averaged 13.7 points and 3.1 assists per game this year; Western Kentucky, UAB, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Valparaiso, Tulane, Wyoming, VCU, South Carolina and Nevada have all shown interest, per ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

First, the odds part.

D.J. Carton

Carton’s recruiting profile has already exploded, and it’s going to boom again this summer. Iowa is among a host of Midwest programs that want Carton a whole heck of a lot. He's probably Iowa's top 2019 priority at this point.

"He continues to get better," Bettendorf coach Curtis Clarke texted me after Iowa State offered Carton last week.

Programs with national recruiting reach are going to take notice this offseason and, perhaps, offer the cerebral point guard out of Bettendorf. Carton has told me Virginia is showing interest, and for some reason I think there's a chance he winds up at a place like that. The ACC or the Big East — somewhere like Virginia or Xavier.

So, with the amount of schools that are and will be pursuing Carton, I’d say Iowa's odds aren't tremendous — nor are any school's odds, at this point. 

Tyrell Terry

On the other hand, I think Iowa’s chances to get Terry are really good.

So far Iowa, Butler, Stanford, Baylor, Drake, Nebraska and North Dakota have offered, but Hawkeyes assistant coach Andrew Francis has created a great relationship with the three-star product of Minneapolis DeLaSalle.

Also — and this is important: Patrick McCaffery told me he was leaving the Iowa Barnstormers to play his AAU ball with D1 Minnesota this offseason. His point guard on that team?


McCaffery will do some leg work in recruiting Terry.

"That’s the plan," he laughed.

Tyreke Locure

Iowa has not yet offered Locure, but it has a good relationship with him, especially assistant coach Sherman Dillard. Right now, it's a wait-and-see relationship.

In other words, it probably won't offer Locure unless it misses on Carton and Terry.

Des Moines North junior Tyreke Locure reacts after nailing a three-point shot against Johnston on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, at Ankeny High School in Ankeny.

Locure holds offers from North Dakota and Drake, as well as interest from Middle Tennessee, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Nebraska-Omaha, South Dakota, Creighton and Iowa State. He’s a legitimate mid-major prospect. If he has a productive offseason, and if things fall a certain way with Iowa’s recruiting, he could land a Hawkeye offer. That would be hard to turn down.

That’s a lot of ifs, though.

So, if I were to rank the odds among these three points guards right now, I’d say: Terry most likely, then Carton and Locure after that.

For the second part of the question: All three point guards are highly talented and will make a college basketball program better. But, of course, there are differences among the three, and Carton projects as the best college player.

He's a four-star, top-40 guy. He's Iowa’s No. 1 point guard priority. Physically, he's the most ready for college and he could probably get you good minutes as a freshman. That’s not at all a knock on Terry or Locure. Iowa likes them both a lot.  

I also don't think it's out of the question Iowa would take both Carton and Terry. Although, I wouldn't blame either for not wanting to commit to Iowa if it already had a 2019 point guard pledge.

I haven't heard anything regarding Iowa and Chol Marial.

The Hawkeyes offered Marial when he was 7-foot-3 eighth-grader. Now, he’s a 7-3 rising senior playing for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He’s a five-star, top-15 prospect for the 2019 class and I don’t think he’s a realistic option at this point.

That doesn’t mean Iowa isn’t going after some truly elite guys for 2019.

These are all still big long-shots, but they're more likely than Marial:

Trayce Jackson-Davis — four-star, top-30 power forward out of Indiana. Patrick McCaffery tells me he texts Jackson-Davis a lot, working on getting him to Iowa. Francis has been on Jackson-Davis for a while, too.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl — five-star, top-20 power forward out of Kansas. Another guy Patrick McCaffery has developed a good relationship with, and another guy Francis has been working on since early in the recruiting process.

Matthew Hurt — five-star, top-10 power forward out of Minnesota. This one is definitely a reach, but he and Patrick McCaffery have a good relationship, and they’ll be teammates on D1 Minnesota this offseason.

The Notre Dame offer changes things for Max Duggan’s recruitment.

247Sports' Steve Wiltfong reported in February that Duggan wanted to make his decision in April and that his final schools were Iowa State, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, TCU and maybe Tennessee.

That was before Duggan’s unofficial visit to South Bend on March 9, when he got his offer from the Fighting Irish. Duggan, a four-star quarterback out of Lewis Central in Council Bluffs, grew up a Notre Dame fan and has had a good relationship with the school for a while now.

Lewis Central quarterback Max Duggan throws a pass against Ankeny Centennial at Ankeny Stadium.

So, does he still pick a college in April? Probably. There are 30 days to choose from.

But the Notre Dame offer gives Duggan more to think about.

At this point, I would be surprised if he picks Iowa or Iowa State.

For the Hawkeyes: Nate Stanley is the quarterback of the present and near future, and Spencer Petras seems to be the heir-apparent. That’s not exactly an attractive situation for a high-end prospect.

For the Cyclones: Iowa State already has a 2019 quarterback pledge in Easton Dean. Nothing prohibits it from taking two quarterbacks. But if Duggan and Dean both sign with Iowa State, you'd have Duggan and Dean plus Brock Purdy, Zeb Noland, Re-al Mitchell and Devon Moore. That's a crowded quarterback room.

Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.